They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. ESV
All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. NIV
In Act I, we saw that God created the universe and sustains all things. There is no corner of the universe where He is not present. He holds all things together by the word of His power. In the creation account, we see not only that God is the Creator but also that He created all things good. Each time God created, He declared that it was good. The sun, moon, and stars; the fish in the sea; the birds in the air — every created thing — God made and said that it was good. On the sixth day, God made humans in His image and said that it was very good. Not only did God make all things good, but He also designed mankind to be good. His final creation was the most cherished of all. Humanity was made without fault and designed to be in relationship with God forever.
In Act II, however, the story takes an unfortunate turn. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, turned aside from God’s good design and pursued their own desires. Instead of living in obedience to God, they chose to rebel. Their choice impacted all of humanity. Things are no longer as God intended them to be. The writer of Psalms says it this way. “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
In this verse, we read about the corruption that entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. And at first, these words may seem dramatic. You might think, “There are some good people in the world. Right?” Or perhaps you begin comparing different people from history. We think of great men and women who lived selflessly and heroically to bring light into the darkness. Certainly, those men and women were good. Right?
You Are In Good Company
If these verses seem dramatic to you, I have good news. You are in good company. For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach a class on Iowa State University’s campus. In the class, we take a closer look at the Story of Redemption and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Part of the class includes survey questions that students can ask friends, family, or random people, each week. One of my favorite questions is this: On a rating of 1 to 10, how bad do you think humanity is? What’s incredible to me is how many different answers people give. Some people say ten — they assume that deep down, humanity is good. Others say two — for one reason or another, they are less optimistic about the “goodness” of people.
At the end of the day, though, the biggest struggle people have with the question is this: We can all think of people who seem good to us. That’s why, it seems hard to understand when we read, “there is none who does good.”
What we have to understand is this. When the Bible says, “there is none who does good,” it doesn’t mean that each person is as sinful as they could be. It doesn’t mean that people never do good things. There are many kind, thoughtful, and generous people in the world.
Instead, it means that you and I are sinful by nature. The default of our heart when we enter the world is to sin. Our deepest desire is not to obey God but to chase after what we want. If we are honest with ourselves, we know it’s true. We know that no one is truly good and truly righteous. We all have hidden places in our hearts where sin is still present. And even though we long to do what is right, the sad reality is that we often turn after our own way. We are not merely passive observers in the Story of Redemption. We have been caught up in the story. When Adam and Eve fell, we did too. You see, the problem is not simply that evil is in the world, but that evil is also in your heart and mine.
No one is a passive observer in the Story of Redemption. We’ve all been impacted. We’ve all fallen short. We’ve all turned aside at one point or another. Each and every one of us has been impacted by brokenness. This is your story, and this is my story. But this is not where the story ends; this is only Act II.
And though you and I are sinful by nature, though the world is not what God intended, my hope is this. Today you would be even more aware of light shining through the darkness. That you would be on the lookout for glimpses of hope as you go throughout your day.
Written By: Nick Harsh
Nick Harsh (MDiv, Clarks Summit University) is a ministry leader with The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. While publishing regularly at nickharsh.com, his writing has also been featured at The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Relevant Magazine.